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Industry News
January 4, 2010

Vitamin Retailer News
Metagenics Grant Funds Naturopathic Healthcare Center
The citizens of Ontario, Canada now have access to a state-of-the-art, fully-integrated naturopathic healthcare center, thanks to a grant from Metagenics, Inc. (San Clemente, CA).

The CCNM Integrated Healthcare Centre is located in the “Metagenics Professional Wing” of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. It is staffed by naturopathic physicians.

Once fully staffed, the Centre will provide patients with a variety of primary care and extended health services. Patients and the general public also have access to on-site botanical dispensary, organic cafeteria and Body Mind Science Resources, a full-service retailer featuring natural health products, health foods, books and other wellness products.

“We’re proud to be affiliated with these important community services provided by the CCNM,” said Kim Piller, Metagenics’ director of sales. “The principles of naturopathic care align closely with our own mission of addressing chronic illness through lifestyle therapies that include proper diet and nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management.”

For more information, call (800) 692-9400 or visit www.metagenics.com.

Life Line Foods Installs Solar Panels
Life Line Foods LLC (Pikeville, TN), maker of Buried Treasure™ liquid dietary supplements, has installed 128 solar panels, making its system the largest solar electric system in Tennessee to receive partial funding from the US Department of Agriculture.

The clean energy produced by the SunPower solar panels will offset pollutants from coal-fired power plants and is expected to produce electricity for the next 40-50 years. It will also offset half the cost of the facility’s entire energy demand in an average year.

For more information, call (800) 216-3231 or visit www.lifelinefoods.com.

Organic Products Retailer News
Whole Foods’ Mackey Relinquishes Chairman Position
Co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc. (Austin, TX) John Mackey has given up his title of chairman, following years of petitioning by an activist shareholder to separate the two roles, according to the Associated Press.

Mackey has held the position of chairman since the company's inception in 1978, and will remain on the board. Whole Foods said Lead Director John Elstrott will become chairman, and his current position will be discontinued.

At Whole Foods’ annual shareholders meeting in March, CtW Investment Group, a shareholder activist group that works with union pension funds, unsuccessfully proposed that the CEO and chairman roles be separated. The grocer said it has been receiving these proposals for three years.

However, CtW contended Mackey’s editorial opposing President Obama’s health care plan damaged the company’s reputation, especially among its left-leaning customers, and subsequently called for his removal as CEO.

The group said Mackey “attempted to capitalize on the brand reputation of Whole Foods to champion his personal political views but has instead deeply offended a key segment of Whole Foods consumer base.”

The shareholder activist requested that Mackey relinquish his chairman title because it believes an independent chairman could improve the company’s stock price performance.

Tree of Life Sold to Kehe
Tree of Life’s parent company, Royal Wessanen nv (The Netherlands), announced that it has reached an agreement to sell the company’s natural and specialty food distribution businesses in North America, including Tree of Life US and Tree of Life Canada, to Kehe Food Distributors, Inc. (Romeoville, IL) for $190 million. An early 2010 closing date is expected.

Last year, Wessanen announced plans to investigate divesting its North American businesses in order to realign its business portfolio and focus its future business development on its European companies. The company purchased Tree of Life in December of 1985 as its entry into the rapidly growing natural and organic food business in the United States. Wessanen provided the financial resources that eventually allowed Tree of Life to become the first nationwide distributor of these products to natural food stores and supermarkets.

While Tree of Life has enjoyed much success, the company’s senior management is enthusiastic about what the purchase of the company by Kehe will mean for the future.

“This is a partnership that benefits both of our companies,” said Troy Benscoter, senior vice president of supermarket sales. “Together we will continue to improve the services that we provide to our retail customers and suppliers.”

Greg Leonard, senior vice president of natural food sales at Tree of Life, agreed with Benscoter: “It is obvious to me that Kehe is excited by Tree of Life’s strong presence as a distributor to natural food stores and wants to see their business in that class of trade grow significantly in the coming years. Given that there are unmet retailer needs in the marketplace, the new company has tremendous opportunities for growth.”

For more information, call (800) 260-2424 or visit www.treeoflife.com.

Nutrition Industry Executive News
Associations Respond to JAMA Ginkgo Study
An article published in the December 29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that Ginkgo biloba extract is ineffective in reducing cognitive decline in older adults with normal cognition or with mild cognitive impairment.

The article presents the findings of a secondary analysis of data from the randomized double-blind Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study, the results of which were published in November 2008. The original GEM trial followed 3,069 individuals aged 75 or older assigned to either placebo or 120mg ginkgo extract twice daily. The primary outcome analysis of the original GEM study found Ginkgo biloba extract ineffective for preventing dementia even though the incidence of development of dementia was lower than expected, and 40 percent of the active group was not compliant in taking their ginkgo, said the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).

The publication involved a review of the data generated in the original GEM study to see if ginkgo slowed the rate of cognitive decline in the study participants. “The data review conducted for this article suffers from the same limitations as the original GEM study with an additional challenge due to the testing schedule not being ideally suited for this new endpoint,” said AHPA Chief Science Officer Steven Dentali, PhD.

“There are many significant limitations of this study,” agreed Mark Blumenthal, American Botanical Council (ABC) founder and executive director. ABC maintained that the data being published are drawn from a previous clinical trial, which was not designed to determine the decline in cognition. “Further, the subjects in the study were not monitored for certain cognitive parameters until several years after the trial began, creating difficulty in determining accurately whether they experienced a decline in cognition or not,” the association said in a statement. “Also, the age of the subjects is quite advanced, at an average of 79 years at the beginning of the trial. This age group is not typical of the age of both healthy people and those with mild cognitive impairment who use ginkgo for improving mental performance.”

Further, ABC noted that this trial lacks an active control in which patients would have used a pharmaceutical medication with presumed efficacy, to determine to what extent the particular population being tested would respond. This was not possible for this trial since no conventional pharmaceutical drug has ever demonstrated the ability to prevent the onset of dementia or diminish its progression.

“As we stated in our comments regarding the 2008 GEM study last year, the boat has left the dock and this study isn’t on it,” stressed Daniel Fabricant, PhD, Natural Products Association (NPA) vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs. “When one considers that age-related cognitive decline may initiate in healthy adults as early as their 30s, it would seem that if the authors were indeed serious about investigating prevention as a secondary outcome, they would have selected a population that was situated closer to the onset of cognitive decline instead of one where its effects most likely have already taken hold.”

“It is important to put this study into context and to remember that there is a large body of previously published evidence, which suggests that Ginkgo biloba may help improve cognitive impairment in older adults,” reminded Douglas MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). “As a former practicing licensed naturopathic doctor, I have had the benefit of working with patients and have seen first-hand how Ginkgo biloba can be effective in improving cognitive function. In an area where there are few other safe, affordable options, I would hate to see this study send the wrong message to consumers. I would continue to recommend Ginkgo biloba to older adults as a safe, effective option for supporting cognitive health and would encourage consumers to talk to their own healthcare professional about what is right for them.”

Unilever Scientists Test Vegetarian Iron
Sodium iron chlorophyllin obtained from mulberries was found to be as bioavailable as heme iron, reported scientists from Unilever R&D Vlaardingen (The Netherlands) in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

“Iron fortification of foods generally has used non-heme iron sources, as these are cheap and easily available,” explained the researchers, led by Silvia Miret. “Nevertheless, these iron sources have poor bioavailability and often affect the organoleptic characteristics of the product.

“The use of heme iron as a fortificant has been limited,” they continued. “This probably responds to a myriad of factors including the elevated costs of hemoglobin or hemoglobin extracts, the intense color of hemoglobin, the large amounts of hemoglobin required and its animal origin, which means that it might not be consumed in certain regions of the world.”

To address this issue, the researchers looked at iron compounds from vegetable origins—specifically sodium iron chlorophyllin.

By using Caco-2 cells to model bioavailability in the human intestine, the researchers found that sodium iron chlorophyllin was “stable under simulated gastrointestinal conditions and is able to deliver bioavailable iron.”

“It should be noted that sodium iron chlorophyllin is intensely green, and therefore, it dramatically affects the color of the food matrixes where it is added,” wrote the researchers. “Coloration could be masked in the presence of cocoa both in chocolate bar formats as well as in drink products.”

“Potentially, sodium iron chlorophyllin could be used as an iron fortificant from vegetable origin with high bioavailability similar to that of heme,” wrote the researchers. “Adequate product formulation and in particular the absence of calcium would be essential to ensure iron delivery. These iron bioavailability results should be corroborated in human intervention studies.”

Source: www.nutraingredients-usa.com

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